9 Tips for a Great Office Secret Santa Exchange

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It’s popular for companies to do a Secret Santa exchange. Some people enjoy it and it can be a lot of fun. For some, they don’t enjoy it and can even be stressful. Below are some tips to ensure you have a great Secret Santa exchange at the office.

Join In the Secret Santa Exchange

It’s easy to be a bit of a Scrooge if you don’t feel like participating. But try to remember one of the main points of a Secret Santa is to foster teambuilding. If you don’t participate, your co-workers may feel like you don’t care and don’t want to be a part of the team. Working in the office typically means we spend more hours with our co-workers than even our immediate family and loved ones. Why not try to build and foster your team and your role on the team. If you can afford to participate, do.

Don’t Force Others to Participate

We don’t know everyone’s situation. Some may not participate for financial or religious reasons. If someone doesn’t wish to participate, don’t force them to, or guilt them into participating.

Set a Max Gift Price Limit

The office Secret Santa is often not thought of by everyone until it’s time. Which means, people may not have budgeted for it in addition to their other holiday expenses. It’s best to keep the price limit to around $25. This amount is a good level to get a thoughtful, and decent gift without going overboard and not making too much where someone will feel like they can’t afford to participate.

Stick to the Price Limit

This is not a time to one-up your co-workers and can make it very uncomfortable for everyone if someone decided they just “had to get” an item when they saw it because it was so fitting to the recipient. Going over budget ends up killing the spirit of the activity and ruins it for everyone. Also, don’t be cheap either. Don’t get a chintzy $5 gift; this will just make you look like a Grinch.

Make it Count, be thoughtful of the Recipient

Sometimes we can be so busy in the office that we may not get to know much about very many co-worker’s personal lives, what their interests or hobbies are. Recommend that everyone fill out a short Secret Santa questionnaire on an index card with a few “get to know you” questions. The questionnaire can help you be more thoughtful in the gift you give. And who doesn’t like receiving a thoughtful gift, even if it didn’t cost very much? It’s that thoughtfulness that embodies the spirit of Christmas and makes others feel it as well.

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No Gifts that Could be Considered Romantic

A simple rule of thumb, if your Secret Santa gift is something a romantic partner might get, don’t get it. For example, items such as perfume, jewelry, chocolates, wine, etc. are all no-nos. Also avoid anything religious, as offices are typically diverse in what religious beliefs and practices co-workers have.

Choose a More Generic Gift

Though you do want your Secret Santa gift to be thoughtful and meaningful to the recipient, it should not make them feel uncomfortable. For example, don’t get a shirt, as it may be the wrong size, and be embarrassing. Though, it would be safe to do items that could be used by everybody, like a scarf, candle, picture frame, movie tickets, etc.

Say ‘Thank You’

You may not like the Secret Santa gift you receive, and it may even make you feel bad if the giver was not very thoughtful in their choice. It’s quite possible that the giver was trying very hard to be thoughtful, and for whatever reason missed the mark, but they tried. Try to remember the spirit of giving also is a spirit of gracious receiving. So be sure to say ‘thank you.’

No Negative Comments or Whisperings

Gossip and negative comments, even if you think you’re saying them in good humor, can quickly kill the Christmas spirit for your co-workers. Especially where someone is trying to be thoughtful, and they hear a co-worker whisper a negative comment about the gift they gave. That can be damaging not only to your work relationship but may hurt the individual personally. Remember, the whole purpose of doing a Secret Santa exchange is to build up, not to tear down.


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